Graces of fellowship in a small group
Christian fellowship is personal, prayerful, and active – which is why regularly engaging in fellowship with others in small groups is so powerful. By encouraging one another for a common goal – eternal life in friendship with Christ – we work to better imitate Jesus the Good Shepherd by spreading the good news of the gospels.
Building brotherhood and evangelizing others in regular gatherings is the fundamental premise of Catholic Guardians. It is the anchor discipline within the Catholic Watchmen movement that holds men accountable as spiritual fathers. He asks men to serve each other by regularly engaging in small groups, breaking away from perhaps more important activities to dive deep and share their circle of influence – helping each other to become better men. By providing encouragement and strengthening spiritual strength through prayer, sharing experiences, witnessing, and responding to the needs of others: “Iron sharpens iron, as one sharpens another” (Prov 27:17 ).
From late September to mid-November, Bishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens ask for comments for the Archdiocesan Synod from small groups that will meet regularly during this period. This includes the faithful who may be in lay ministries, apostolates, movements, service organizations, etc. Our Chief Shepherd asks that parishes use the strength, insight, and wisdom that can come from small groups to help him discern how to approach three areas of focus – his pastoral priorities – across the archdiocese. This is amplified by our next monthly Catholic Watchman prayer intention, “That the Holy Spirit may bless the faithful and all of our Archdiocese.” This ardent prayer, this sincere listening and this sincere discernment can guide all the small parish groups that provide commentary for the Synod.
The talents, spirit, ideas, and most importantly the graces that can arise from faith-based small group discussions can indeed provide valuable input for strategic and operational purposes “of the church”, in maintaining and acquiring spiritual value for those who come together. Small synod groups, for example, are nourished by prayer – asking God to guide them “on how we can more vigorously proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” Christ knew that people who create common bonds of brotherhood grow stronger, no matter what the task. Our task is to try to make our local Church better, while making us all better by loving God and loving our neighbor.
Small groups are asked to delve deeply into the areas of intervention of the Synod: forming parishes to better serve in evangelization, forming missionary disciples who know the love of Jesus and respond to his call, and form our future – young people and young adults – so as to keep the Church young and strong in the faith. Your participation in an existing or new small group can help the Synod prosper by shaping the future of the local Church – our future. See details on archspm.org/synode and discuss with your ward leadership how you can share your talents through small group contribution.
The Acts of the Apostles tell us that at Pentecost approximately 3,000 were evangelized and then baptized by the Apostles. What followed? The power of the Holy Spirit was not idle, and neither did the Spirit choose a large group, awe-inspiring opportunities to help evangelists help others meet Jesus. Witnessing, baptizing, preaching, and serving those in need to spread the Good News was largely about engaging others in small group activities.
About 8,000 people have contributed to selected and larger-scale synodal parish events over the past two years, allowing for further discussion and discernment of areas of interest. Now is the time for existing and newly developed small groups to take the lead in prayer and sincerely respond to our Chief Shepherd who serves and represents the Good Shepherd.
Deacon Bird is ministering to St. Joseph in Rosemount and All Saints in Lakeville, and assists the Catholic Watchmen movement in the Archdiocese. Learn more about Catholic Guardians at archspm.org/faith-communities/men.
Category: Catholic watchmen